Researchers are constantly looking for ways to improve hearing technology. One surprising avenue that may offer insight is to study the way insects locate sounds.
Hearing Aid Difficulties and Background Noise
Hearing aids make it easier for you to process speech and sound in any environment. However, users can still struggle to understand speech in places with background noise, especially if you have to locate where a specific voice is coming from in a crowded environment.
This dilemma is commonly referred to as the “cocktail party problem” and it’s one that researchers are working hard to solve.
Improve Ability to Locate Sound
To that end, researchers at the University of Toronto are studying the unique hearing ability of a small fly known as Ormia ochracea. These flies have extremely accurate directional hearing due to the design of their ears.
Unlike most other animals, Ormia’s eardrums are connected. This allows them to quickly figure out which direction sound is coming from. Engineers hope to create sensor technology that could mimic the fly’s eardrum and improve the ability of hearing aids to localize sound.
Spider Silk for Better Hearing
Flies are not the only creepy crawler that may offer insight into how to optimize hearing aids in noisy environments. Spiders are getting in on the game as well.
Studies have shown that spider silk could serve as an ideal material to create better directional microphones in hearing aids. The fibers are light yet strong, a rare combination that can improve sound quality at all frequencies and make it easier to follow conversations at:
- Large work meetings or conferences
- Busy restaurants like Proof on Main
- Large parties or family get-togethers
Treat Your Hearing Loss Now
While these developments are exciting, they are likely years away from being available. If you have hearing loss or are worried that you do, it’s important to take action now.
The first step is to schedule a hearing test with an audiologist. They can quickly determine the degree of your hearing loss and come up with a treatment plan. This will likely include customized hearing aids to meet your individual needs.
While they may not have spider silk, modern hearing aids offer an array of technology features to enhance your experience, including:
- Bluetooth™ compatibility
- Apps that let you adjust your device using your smartphone
- Rechargeable batteries
Most importantly, they help keep you connected to your loved ones and the world around you.
If you have additional questions or would like to make an appointment with one of our hearing specialists, contact Heuser Hearing Institute today.